Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Characters in the Rukminiharana’ of the English study of the Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya: an important work on Hindu dramaturgy (Natya-shastra) from the tenth century dealing with the ten divisions of Sanskrit drama (nata), describing their technical aspects and essential dramaturgical principals. These ten types of drama are categorised based on the plot (vastu), hero (neta) and sentiment (rasa)

Part 7 - Characters in the Rukmiṇīharaṇa

Like the Samavakāra, the Īhāmṛga also contains many characters. They are more than twenty in number. All the characters have importance in the drama, though they may be noble or low.

They are:

  1. Sūtradhāra,
  2. Sthāpaka,
  3. Akrūra,
  4. Pratīhārī,
  5. Kṛṣṇa,
  6. Balarāma,
  7. Priyamvada,
  8. Dīpaka,
  9. Sātyakī,
  10. Uddhava,
  11. Vāsudeva,
  12. Sandhānaka,
  13. Bhīṣmaka,
  14. Bandīs (Cāṭas),
  15. Śiśupāla,
  16. Rukmī,
  17. Dāruka,
  18. Sārathī,
  19. Tārkṣya,
  20. Devakī,
  21. Rukmiṇī,
  22. Subuddhī,
  23. Suvatsalā and
  24. Makarandikā.


Kṛṣṇa is the central character in the drama. Kṛṣṇa got invitation from Śiśupāla that he was going to marry Rūkmiṇī, the daughter of Bhīṣmaka, by force. However, Rukmiṇī had already accepted Kṛṣṇa as her husband. Though, Bhiṣmaka wanted to give his daughter to Kṛṣṇa, his son Rukmī did not want Rukmiṇī to marry Kṛṣṇa and therefore Rukmī supported Śiśupāla. Thus, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma decided to fight with Śiśupāla. The next day, Kṛṣṇa left along with Balarāma, Sātyaki and Akrūra and resided in a camp near Kuṇḍinapura, where the marriage ceremony was arranged. However, Rukmiṇī was very much worried at the prospect of marriage with Śiśupāla and therefore sent Suvatsalā and Subuddhī to the camp of Kṛṣṇa and arranged to give a portrait of herself.

Upon their return, they informed Rukmiṇī that Kṛṣṇa has already got married to her portrait. Getting the news, Rukmiṇī also gets married to the portrait of Kṛṣṇa. In the mean time, all the kings who were passing through the palace came to the marriage. Kṛṣṇa who was also passing through the palace, came to the marriage with a portrait of Rukmiṇī and himself depicted as married couple drawn by Ceṭī Makarandikā. When he looked up towards the palace, he saw Rukmiṇī was waiting for him. He appreciated the beauty of Rukmiṇī.

Meanwhile, Bhīṣmaka took Kṛṣṇa away. Then Śiśupāla came to the ceremony with Rukmī and searched for Rukmiṇī but they did not find her, as she had already left the palace with Subuddhī to worship Indrāṇī. However, Kṛṣṇa abducted Rukmiṇī from the worshiping place. On the other side, the army of Kṛṣṇa started fighting with the army of Śiśupāla and Balarāma joined the army against Śiśupāla and Rukmī. However, Śiśupāla left Balarāma and ran behind Kṛṣṇa and so Kṛṣṇa had to come back and fight with him. Śiśupāla and Rukmī moved to the sky and started magical war. Then, Kṛṣṇa called Garuḍa and fought in the sky with them and brought both Śiśupāla and Rukmī down. After defeating them, Kṛṣṇa left for Dvārakā with Rukmiṇī and Balarāma.


Balarāma is the angry brother of Kṛṣṇa. He did not appreciate the behaviour of Śiśupāla towards Rukmiṇī, who was going to marry her against her will. When the ambassador of Śiśupāla invited Kṛṣṇa to the marriage of Śiśupāla, Balarāma got angry and advised that they should leave immediately to fight against Śiśupāla.

He does not want to wait and tells Kṛṣṇa that it is not time to wait:

naiṣa vilambāvasaraḥ”.

He does not listen to any advices of Kṛṣṇa and Akrūra.

He wants to fight against Śiśupāla, only for the sake of Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī and for their marriage:

tvām rukmiṇīpāṇinipīḍanāya varam na yoddhāramaham kariṣye”.

Then Kṛṣṇa advised him that it would be right to leave tomorrow and they should take the advice of the elders before leaving palace.

Uddhava wanted that they should wait for an auspicious moment and called astrologer; however, Balarāma did not believe in astrologer and told Uddhava that all “grahas” were delighted and there was no need to delay:

āyāsogaṇakānām mithyā grahagaṇita vistāraiḥ”.

However, they took the blessings of Devakī and Vasudeva and left for Kuṇḍinapura. Before the marriage ceremony, Kṛṣṇa abducted Rukmiṇī and Balarāma alone fought with Śiśupāla and Rukmi. However, Śiśupāla was not interested in fighting with Balarāma and he left Balarāma and ran behind Kṛṣṇa. When Kṛṣṇa saw Śiśupāla was following him, he came back and fought with him. Śiśupāla and Rukmī fought a magical war in the sky with Kṛṣṇa and therefore Kṛṣṇa had to summon Garuḍa for fighting in the sky with them. Finally, Kṛṣṇa brought them down. Kṛṣṇa excused them and left with Balarāma and Rukmiṇī to Dvārakā.


Śiśupāla, the king of Cedī, decides to marry Rukmiṇī by force, who is the daughter of Bhīṣmaka, the king of Vidarbha:

bāliśatvam śiśupālasya, yadayam madhukaiṭabhāripremasarasīrājahaṃsīm rukmiṇīm nijamanomarumaṇḍale balena vāsayitumabhilaṣati

However, Rukmiṇī wants to marry Kṛṣṇa whom she loves very much. Śiśupāla always wants to offend Kṛṣṇa and therefore he sends invitation to Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa accepts his invitation and before Śiśupāla reaches Kuṇḍīnapura, he abducts Rukmiṇī. The fight ensues between Śiśupāla and Kṛṣṇa, but, Kṛṣṇa after defeating, excuses him.


Rukmiṇī, the daughter of Bhīṣmaka, who is the king of Vidarbha, accepts Kṛṣṇa as her husband. However, Śiśupāla wants to marry her by force and her brother also supports him. She fears thinking this, because she knew from Bhagavatī Subuddhī that in childhood Śiśupāla had a dangerous figure. Both Bhagavatī Subuddhī and the attendant Suvatsalā help her in everything. She loves Kṛṣṇa, so she marries with his portrait. Kṛṣṇa reaches Kundīnapura before Śiśupāla and Rukmī and abducts Rukmiṇī. Śiśupāla becomes very angry and starts fighting, but, Balarāma faces him. However, leaving Balarāma, Śiśupāla runs after Kṛṣṇa. Thus, Kṛṣṇa had to fight and defeat Śiśupāla. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma then leave for Dvārakā with Rukmiṇī.


Sātyaki is a great warrior and devotee of Kṛṣṇa. When Śiśupāla wanted to marry Rukmiṇī by force and invited Kṛṣṇa to attend the ceremony, Sātyaki advised Kṛṣṇa that they should not wait for the auspicious moment and should leave for Kuṇḍīnapura immediately. Devakī allowed Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma to fight against Śiśupāla and bring Rukmiṇī away from Śiśupāla, because Sātyaki was with them.

Sātyaki proved that he himself is a powerful warrior:

tiṣṭha tiṣṭha ahamimānsaṃmukhīkaromi”.

Sātyaki and Balarāma fought with great vigour against Śiśupāla and allowed Kṛṣṇa to get away with Rukmiṇī. At the end, they defeated Śiśupāla and went to Dvārakā with Rukmiṇī and Sātyaki.

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